After 20 years of marriage and 22 years as a (layperson) singles minister I have a few observations.
Ministers: Please use this information to improve outreach and support of the unmarried people.
Singles: Please use this to strengthen your walk with God.
Some general statistics first: 52% of adults in our society is NOT MARRIED. Approximately 15% of NOT MARRIED people attend church regularly.
40% of children in our society are currently in a single parent home. Most do not attend church.
Single people include the a) never married b) single parents c) divorced people d) widowed people. Among the lowest percentage involved in church are single parents and their children. Many Senior citizens cohabitate because of “penalties” related to social security and pensions. Many younger widowed individuals cannot connect because they have few peers. (As many as 90% of) Divorced people leave the church. As few as 1% of churches have a singles ministry.
Why do churches not reach out to singles?
Over 1000 ministers were asked that question and here are their answers:
More single people are irresponsible and unreliable.
More single people have issues with mental health.
More single people have problems with commitment.
Many churches are uncomfortable dealing with issues such as dating, premarital sex and/or celibacy.
Many single people are not skilled with social interaction. Often, church staff do know how to support the divorced or widowed. Churches with Singles ministry have to work very hard to get a minimal return from singles. Often, singles events are poorly attended or received.
Why do singles not participate in activities at church? Nobody wants to be pigeon holed into a program that they do not want. Church is for couples.
Married preachers talking about their families. Most married people do not understand or feel comfortable with the unmarried. When attending church, singles do not want the pressures of “outside” life to interfere with “worship” Singles want the events to be accessible and available without much of the work that comes with ministry. DivorceCare and GriefTalk/GriefCare is depressing and attendees are chronically miserable. Some feel they are not relevant to parenting/dating/coping… real life.
These are a few of the myriad of issues surrounding the issue of reaching out to and including singles in the life of the church. They are just as much as part of the body as any other part and yet often go very neglected!
Information from US Census 2010, Christianity Today and US News and World Report online.
Please use this information to your advantage. Matthew 28:19: “Go to the world, make disciples, baptize them”
To God be all the glory!
By Jim Miller